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ZURICH CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS


TALK ABOUT PRESSURE. First, Jason Dufner was trying to win his first PGA TOUR title in his 164th start.


Second, to do it, he had to beat Ernie Els in a playoff. That would be Ernie Els, as in World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els. Third, he was getting married in a week. All that notwithstanding, he pulled everything off. He won on the second hole of the playoff and the wedding went just fine, thank you. Playoffs haven’t always been pleasant experiences for Dufner. In 2011 he lost in one to Mark Wilson in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and another to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship. In all, he brought three runner-up finishes on his record to TPC Louisiana. “It’s always really tough playing on Sundays, whether you’re in the lead or middle of the pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there,” Dufner said. “It was tough. Ernie made a great run at me and it felt like with five or six holes (to go) we were probably going to be battling for the win. To get the monkey off of my back, it’s a great feeling.”


“It’s always really tough playing on


April 25-28


TPC Louisiana (Par 72/7,425 yards) Avondale, Louisiana


Sundays whether you’re in lead or middle of pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win event, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there.”– Jason Dufner


Dufner admitted that the stress of trying to break through with a win was wearing on him. “There’s been a good bit of pressure,” Dufner said. “People talking about, `Why aren’t you winning? Why can’t you close the deal?’ My friends, family, media, even people in my inner circle. It wasn’t in a negative way, but when you’re leading tournaments going into


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Being under pressure did not keep Dufner from winning the Zurich Classic.


weekends and you’re finishing 24th, there’s going to be some questions.”


ELS MAKE A STRONG RUN Dufner began the final round with a two-stroke lead and turned in a respectable 2-under-par 70. But Els made a strong charge with a 67 to force the playoff. Both players had birdie


putts inside 8 feet on the first playoff hole (No. 18) but missed. They returned to 18 and Els drove into a fairway bunker, laid up 137 yards from the hole, and hit his third shot onto the fringe. His putt for birdie from 20 feet narrowly missed. When Dufner made his 2-footer for birdie, it was over. Els, whose last TOUR win came at the


PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2013 173


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